Calgary scored three times on its first five shots and rolled to a 7-2 victory against the Pacific Division-leading Ducks on Tuesday night. The rebuilding Flames, 13th in the Western Conference and 26th in the overall standings, snapped a two-game losing skid and extended their recent improvement on home ice; Calgary has won seven of its past 10 at Scotiabank Saddledome.
"We have a bunch of kids with us and they were with us at training camp," Calgary coach Bob Hartley said. "The core of our group, the leadership group, the veterans, are simple guys. This is a special group. The only sad part of our season is we're not where we'd like to be in the standings, but this is a great group of guys. Sitting where we're at, it's tough to give them credit, but I live with them day after day and I'm not scared to give them credit because they deserve it."
The Ducks (43-16-7) appeared to be in control of its own fate in their quest for the franchise's first Presidents' Trophy before a four-game losing streak in March that has allowed the St. Louis Blues to pass them. In addition, the Ducks' once-safe division lead over the San Jose Sharks has shrunk to two points.
"There's not much to say. We played like [garbage]," Anaheim forward Andrew Cogliano said. "I think every guy in the room should be completely embarrassed about how they played tonight. Every single person. To start a road trip, one of the biggest road trips and have a division rival chasing you down and have a ton on the line, it's [ridiculous] how we played tonight.
"You pretty much have to look in the mirror and I know it's cliche but if you really don't, this is going to get bad in a hurry because it's not right. We have guys in this room that know how to play. We did it all year. We've been first place for a long time, we have guys that are Olympic champions, we have guys that have been there before and won Stanley Cups and young guys that have been in the organization that have played great hockey this year so to just have this stretch and you know what, we wanted to start this road trip off right. To do this is not right."
Calgary (26-33-7) wasted little time extending Anaheim's struggles by getting to Jonas Hiller early.
Mark Giordano stepped into a slap shot from the point that clipped the stick of Anaheim forward Kyle Palmieri and deflected up over Hiller's glove 3:39 after the opening puck drop. It was Giordano's 11th goal, matching the career high he set in 2009-10, and came on Calgary's first shot of the game.
Hiller denied Mikael Backlund's shorthanded 2-on-1 chance on the Flames' second shot but wasn't as fortunate on the third, a TJ Galiardi's tap-in on a pass from Paul Byron's 3-on-1 setup while Calgary was still down a man to extend the lead to 2-0 at 7:10.
With Byron driving to the net, Backlund centered a pass that redirected off Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin and over Andersen's pad to extend Calgary's lead to four with 6:32 remaining in the period.
The Flames' first four-goal period of the season was met with a standing ovation from those in attendance as the team departed down the tunnel for the first intermission.
"It's an entertaining thing we do, so we want to try and entertain people," Backlund said. "We're going to play like it's the playoff all the way through here and not sit back, not think about the draft."
The cheers resumed when Backlund added a second shorthanded goal, his 15th goal of the season, 1:31 into the second period. He snapped a shot through Andersen's legs to put the Flames up 5-0. Calgary leads the NHL with 11 shorthanded goals.
But with 1:11 remaining in the period, defenseman Ladislav Smid made it 6-1 with his first goal as a member of the Flames. Byron's attempt to drive to the net was denied by Andersen, but he corralled the rebound and spotted Smid alone in the slot. The veteran defenseman found the back of the net for his second of the season and first since Oct. 22nd, a span of 55 games.
"I thought we handled it pretty well, considering that we had a four-goal lead," Smid said. "Sometimes, that can be dangerous."
"It was the seventh goal but, for me, it felt like an overtime winner with how I felt after that," Knight said. "It's definitely something I'll never forget. It's pretty special."